EartHand Gleaners Society Connects Vancouverites to Local Fibre

2 November 2022

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The EartHand Gleaners Society can be a bit difficult to define. I’ve often used the analogy of a “back-to-the land group,” only instead of making jam and bread, they make linen from home-grown flax and weave baskets with materials harvested from city parks, all while operating out of downtown Vancouver.

Perhaps they are hard to pin down because there’s no straight through-line for the society. Their seeds were planted twenty years ago in a public art project by Oliver Kellhammer working with Environmental Youth Alliance, and it has been growing organically ever since. EartHand’s founding director, artist Sharon Kallis, joined the garden in 2007 as a volunteer and has, more or less, led the project since 2009.

My own journey as an artist is firmly enmeshed with EartHand experiences. I was lucky to stumble upon their open studios around 2014 while still living in Vancouver. At these free afternoons, held in downtown parks, a wide cross-section of people would drift in to check out the offerings. What struck me back then was the inclusiveness across both age and race, which is the core of their mission statement:

“We aim to strengthen intercultural connections and relationships to place, and find meaningful ways to acknowledge our Host Nations. Respectful collaboration is the core of our practice”.

All images courtesy Sharon Kallis/EartHand Gleaners unless otherwise noted.

About Christi York

Christi York is a mixed-media artist working with mainly sculptural basketry and botanical printing. She has unbounded enthusiasm for working with natural fibres and recycled materials, and an intense curiosity for exploring the natural world in general.

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